A Platypod System for Night Photography with Dave Williams

Words by Dave Williams
Edited by Eryka Bagwell

"Recently, I’ve been shooting more and more often with my iPhone at times that I would have otherwise used my mirrorless camera and it seems, I’m not the only one. It’s been announced by the CEO of Sony that smartphone cameras are anticipated to outperform DSLR and mirrorless cameras by 2024. This is big news but it’s not exactly a surprise. Smartphone cameras have come on leaps and bounds, and a lot of tech is being packed into a small package. I’ve been using my Platypod eXtreme and Platyball Elite to support my iPhone 13 Pro Max using the Square Jellyfish in some instances and the ShiftLens ProGrip in others. 

"I recently assisted in Russell Brown’s Pre-Con at Adobe MAX and we took the opportunity to head out to Joshua Tree National Park to shoot for an evening. The shoot was great fun, despite the surprisingly hot temperature in October, which I’m not designed for as a regular Arctic explorer. We ventured out on a scouting mission during the day, finding the spot we wanted to shoot in and returning that evening as the sun was setting. Our intention was to shoot the Milky Way.

Here’s the set-up I used: 

"I had my iPhone 13 Pro Max secured in the ShiftCam ProGrip, using the thread on the bottom of the handle to secure a tripod plate that I attached to the Platyball Elite. This in turn was mounted on my Platypod eXtreme, giving me a truly portable platform to ensure stability for my shot and aside from the obvious reason, here’s why that’s so important:

"When we shoot in Night Mode in the native iPhone Camera app we can achieve up to 10-seconds exposure time. When we stabilize our iPhone and the internal inertia-ometer (I’m pretty sure that’s what it’s called) sense that it’s perfectly still we can shoot for up to 30-seconds. Our iPhone camera is actually only shooting one-second exposures over that 30-second period and stacking them, but that’s a technicality just as a point of interest. When we shoot in this way and ensure that we’re shooting in Apple ProRAW, we have full creative control over the resulting photo. Here’s what I got after processing in Adobe Lightroom Mobile: 

"In this shot, I light painted the tree using a flashlight. When light painting with the iPhone it’s best to use soft light for a longer period of time because it takes in the light cumulatively and adds it to each of the one second exposures, which is different to how it would work with a DSLR or Mirrorless camera.

"This photo is of Aaron Grimes wearing a head lamp which is illuminating the tree. I added the flare on the light using Lens Distortions to add some interest because otherwise it would just appear as a blob of light.

"This just goes to show that perhaps the Sony CEO’s forecast is accurate. What’s even more notable about this is that as well as having such a compact rig with such high performance, including the perfectly rock-steady base provided by Platypod, is that the entire process of shooting and editing was all done without leaving the phone.

"Platypod is my go-to for stabilizing my camera or my iPhone when I’m shooting. It gives me a solid base that’s portable and ergonomic, and it does its job just perfectly."

To view more of Dave Williams work visit his website by clicking here. To listen to Dave and many other extraordinary photographers featured on the Epic Photography Podcast click here to learn more. To purchase your Platypod setup visit our website by clicking here.